Let's talk about change and mental health.
Leaders must acknowledge the challenges that organisational change brings. According to Gartner, over 80% of employees experience cultural tensions or competing priorities during transformations. Both create stress and worsen performance.
Working with the Alliance Against Depression team in Fremantle, Melville and Cockburn reminded us about the issues that arise when change occurs. These can include above-average health issues and sick days, turnover rates, or even self-harm and suicide.
Mental health problems are on the rise. In fact, studies say over a quarter of people will experience a mental health problem per year, and it’s estimated that by 2030, depression will be the leading cause of death.
As change leaders, we encourage businesses and leaders to take no-regret steps every day towards the mental wellbeing of their people.
Understanding the impact of change on our mental well being
A recent global change has affected almost every one of us. The disruption caused by the pandemic surfaced many emotions from avoidance, overwhelm and panic to hope.
Whilst some people shut their eyes to the threat, many started hoarding toilet paper, and others created a contingency plan and took action. Change-resilience is one of the 6 Change Leadership capabilities we teach. Resilience allows you to bounce back quickly and motivate others to do the same.
We use the 4F model to explain organisational and individual change, reactions, and impacts. Changes are often met with resistance and fight, flight, freeze reactions. But individuals that fight and freeze under uncertainty experience high levels of stress. Shortening the time people spend in the Stress- and Resistance-zone has a significant positive impact on the mental wellbeing of a person.
Learning skills and tools to be change-resilient will help you maintain a calm, decisive and constructive nature - even under pressure. This is bound to rub off on your team.
Here are our top 3 steps to practice resilience:
1. Use exposure therapy and proven tools to practice fast recovery from adversity
Resilient change leaders regularly practice tools to respond rapidly to adversity. The Rapid Change Plan is one of the methods we highly recommend when you face a new change.
2. Mindfully and without judgement, acknowledge your challenges
The 4 F model helps leaders to articulate how people react to change. Knowing that uncertainty triggers fight, flight or fear is the key to name and overcome those emotions. Once labelled, emotions soften, and you can think more positively about the things to come.
3. Motivate yourself to take proactive steps
A vision is not hung up on the specifics of the process. Daily visualisation feeds the Reticular Activating System in your brain the visuals it needs to start paying attention to. A vision board or visual change roadmap acts as a fantastic motivator for you and your team to keep moving and overcome setbacks.
Challenge, control and commitment are the three C’s of leading change with resilience. Every time you practice one of these three actions, you are rising to the challenge, taking control and committing to your own and other’s mental wellbeing.
Successful change leaders sail through disruptions.
Eva is one of the masterminds behind Approach Services' blog and The 6 Cents of Change. She is an innovator, trainer and change manager. Her work has been published in Schmalenbach Journal of Business Research. In her spare time, she enjoys camping with her two little boys and permaculture gardening.
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